Client: Inter American Development Bank (IADB) and Comunidad Religiosos Camilos
Date: 2022 – Present
Program: Regeneration of a vacant lot into a park
Scope: Design, project execution
The EcoPark proposes the regeneration of a vacant lot in La Paz neighborhood, in the southwest of Barranquilla, Colombia. It has a surface area of 2.5 hectares and a pond that has been formed over the years by rainwater collection. The project approaches three main themes: the social, the economic and the environmental.
The EcoPark aims to prove that a park can generate the conditions for a better social integration of a community. It has been designed to become a space of refuge for the many members of the Venezuelan Diaspora who have settled in Villa Caracas, a town neighboring the site. Their homes and neighborhood are unequipped with quality public spaces and ecology, so the park has the potential to make a significant positive impact in their lives.
The future park has a fundamental social function as a public space and facility, in order to accommodate and multiply the possibilities of programs and activities in the neighborhood. It is a much needed public space that can bring La Paz’s conditions on par with those of other Barranquilla neighborhoods with more green infrastructure.
It aims to become a reference in the neighborhood: an inclusive, accessible and safe space that is climatically comfortable. It is a space for botanical learning, play and meeting people – a space that will undoubtedly have an impact on the quality of life of the people in the neighborhood.
The park has been designed to become a space of harmony between the local community and the migrant community. These Venezuelan migrants are vulnerable and have arrived in an already socioeconomically vulnerable environment.
The Ecopark, however, can become a platform for new economic opportunities, as it encourages food production and artisanal craft activity. Neighbors of the park will be given the tools to learn urban farming, which can permit them to sustain themselves. In fact, there will also be workshops and training programs that improve the self-sufficiency and resilience of these groups.
The park´s other main function is its environmental focus. As an urban forest, it will bring a new level of ecology and biodiversity to the area. The proposal foresees the transformation of the lot, currently fenced, without public access and totally exposed to inclement weather and without shade, to become a natural space of refuge in the neighborhood.
Water is a fundamental element for the creation and maintenance of the park. The design proposes the collection of water during the wet season for use during the dry season, aspiring to be sustainable throughout the year. The park functions as natural infrastructure that holds water during storms and prevents flooding in the area. This water is later used to irrigate the park, which will be planted with native species that enhance its ecosystem with biodiversity.
The vegetal component of the park is its essence. Trees contribute to the quality of the space, mitigate the heat and generate climatic comfort, contributing to biodiversity by supporting the fauna, attracting birds and supporting insects. The objective is the recovery, preservation and conservation of native species of the dry forest ecosystem that have been identified during the participatory process.